Growing Asia MEMS Industry Highlighted at SEMICON Taiwan


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Growing Asia MEMS Industry Highlighted at SEMICON Taiwan

The first Taiwan MEMS Forum, held in conjunction with last week’s SEMICON Taiwan, provided over 200 attendees with expert insight into the market trends, regional research activities, application developments, and production solutions in the growing MEMS industry. Furthering industry networking, exposure and sales opportunities, SEMICON Taiwan also featured the first MEMS Pavilion that included a MEMS museum that attracted crowds eager to learn more about this growing segment of the microelectronics industry.

The first Taiwan MEMS Forum, held in conjunction with last week’s SEMICON Taiwan, provided over 200 attendees with expert insight into the market trends, regional research activities, application developments, and production solutions in the growing Microsystems industry. Furthering industry networking, exposure and sales opportunities, SEMICON Taiwan also featured the first MEMS Pavilion that included a MEMS museum that attracted crowds eager to learn more about this growing segment of the microelectronics industry.

Jean-Christophe Eloy, president and CEO of Yole Developpment, began the full-day session with a comprehensive overview of the market segments, applications, business drivers, and technology trends that will grow the market to $12.4 billion in 2012, up from $7 billion this year. The most prominent MEMS segments today are in accelerometers and gyros for the consumer electronics and automotive industries. Currently, ST Micro, Bosch and Analog Devices lead this segment with a combined market share of around 50%. Significant new segments that are rapidly growing include microfluidic devices for drug delivery is estimated to reach $500 million in sales this year.

Considerable focus throughout the day was devoted to inertial sensing applications, or multi-axis sensors, that combine accelerometers and gyros to provide up to 6-degrees of freedom and high precision. ST Micro, Inversense and SensorDynamics are the early leaders in this segment, according to Eloy. MEMS in mobile phone applications will grow from approximately $500 million today to $2.5 billion in 2013 in applications that include accelerometers, gyros, pressure, RF, microphone, oscillators, and camera autofocus. The MEMS equipment will remain flat through 2010, but will double in 2011 to over $300 million and exceed $500 million by 2012.

Source: Yole Developpment

Inside Inertial Sensors

New MEMS devices featured in the program included 6-axis motion sensors from Wacoh. Dr. Kazuhiro Okada, CEO of Japan-based Wacoh, described his company’s inertial sensors that use piezo resistance, capacitance and piezo electric technologies. Currently, motion sensing in the Wii controllers and other devices are provided by 1, 2 and 3 axis gyros and separate accelerometers. Many applications are integrating these devices for lower cost and better performance. Dr. Okada provided details on the electrode, oscillator and pillar structures in the devices and explained the circuit amplification and filtering requirements.

Dr. Yu-Wen Hsu from Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) gave an overview of their “G-sensor” development program and an overview of ITRI’s impressive commitment to the Microsystems industry. ITRI expects one billion accelerometers to be shipped in 2012. ITRI’s inertial sensors use capacitive, thermal and piezo resistive technologies depending on the application. Advanced Deep Reactive Ion Etch (DRIE), chip stacking and wafer bonding capabilities are required to produce the necessary structures and packages.

ITRI also sees vertical integration of MEMS and CMOS to be a growing need and is currently stacking sensors on an ASIC with no wire bond pads. Taiwan’s packaging firms also see a growing opportunity for assembling CMOS and MEMS at the wafer level.

ITRI’s strategy for MEMS is based on leveraging Taiwan’s current IC infrastructure. They provide “open lab” facilities, facilitate supply chain partnerships for product development, and leverage R&D resources through cooperative agreements with other research institutions. Dr. Hsu described an impressive list of MEMS development capabilities that include wet, dry, and DRIE etching, wafer level testing, structural simulation and modeling, 3D packaging.

Further reinforcing Taiwan’s growing role in the global MEMS industry was a presentation by Dr. Jerwei Hsieh of Asia Pacific Microsystems, a MEMS foundry service with close ties to UMC. Dr. Hsieh presented a strong case for the growing role of foundry services in the MEMS market, an opinion shared by Eloy and other industry observers. He sees a 30% compound average growth rate for foundries in MEMS and predicts that fabless MEMS companies will “become mainstream.” APM has developed a comprehensive tool box of process modules, platforms and capabilities to facilitate a high growth MEMS business. At the present time, however, evaluating profitable MEMS business is difficult and a standard MEMS process is still years away.

China also has an emerging MEMS research capability. Dr. Schiu Sche, policy advisor to TEEMA, outlined current research efforts in MEMS in China. Because China has placed an enormous priority on automotive and mobile phone technology development, and the country is expected to consume nearly $3 billion in MEMS devices by 2011, many expect they will join the MEMS industry in the near future with home-grown products. While significant research programs have begun at Peking, Tsinghua, and Fudan universities, and the Harbin Institute of Technology, Dr. Sche concludes that significant MEMS announcements are not imminent, but the country’s demand for MEMS products may trigger even greater efforts in the future.

New Production Solutions

Rounding out the MEMS Forum were new production solutions from Suss MicroTec and Solidus Technologies. Dr. Michael Hornung from Suss described his company’s UV nano imprint techniques on mask aligners for MEMS applications. He described why imprint technology is effective for MEMS structuring from the micron to nano scale. The company’s Substrate Conformal Imprint Lithography (SCIT) uses a soft stamp that conforms to uneven wafer surfaces with high pattern fidelity to achieve complex nano-scale MEMS structures.

Hugh Miller, CEO of Solidus, showcased an innovative solution for wafer-level testing of capacitive based MEMS sensors. Solidus is able to achieve dynamic wafer-level testing by introducing a drive voltage to the sensor that can be used to measure and verify critical sensor mechanical characteristics. Through this technique, wafer-level testing can be used to optimize the manufacturing process to improve yields and significantly reduce the time required for expensive package-level testing.

New MEMS Market Report Available FREE to SEMI members

The Global MEMS/Microsystems Markets and Opportunities 2009 Report from Yole Developpement is available FREE to SEMI members at www.semi.org/mems

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For information on the MEMS Executive Conference (November 4 – 6 in Sonoma, California), please click here.

October 5, 2009